Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Cup of Tea

I can wade Grief-
Whole Pools of it-
I'm used to that-
But the least push of Joy
Breaks up my feet-
And I tip- drunken-
Let no Pebble- smile-
'Twas the New Liquor-
That was all!
-Emily Dickinson

Three years ago Spouse and I visited one of my relatives, who lives in Tennessee.
I had not met him before and he was enthusiastic about showing us around his home, preparing food for us and making us feel welcome. He had recently and abruptly lost his wife after fifty years of companionship. Since then he lived completely alone.
So it was quite something to see a man so elated to have a guest for whom to make a little cup of tea.
He had asked me before our trip if I liked tea, and I had replied that I most positively did. He promised me a very good cup, the best he could make, and I was eager to taste it.
On our first morning, as Spouse and I sat at the homely kitchen table, my relative placed a cup of tea in front of me. My heart dropped to my toes.
It was warm Camomile tea which just happens to be the one thing in all the world that I cannot abide by. I compare it, at best, to a cup of strongly perfumed, sickly-sweet, and cloying flowers.
I wanted so much to tell him that I could not drink it but I took one look at my relative, saw him glad beyond all our understanding to be sharing tea with me, and I knew that I could not reject the drink.
I glanced quickly at my Spouse, who lightly nodded at me to drink it.
I threw the entire cup of scented liquid down my throat in one gasp. My relative did not notice my inner struggle to keep from spluttering.
Still, because I drank it, a grieving old man was undeniably happy for a fleeting moment.
Because I professed to like it he prepared the tea again for me the following morning and I repeated the procedure.
We are visiting my relative again at the end of March and I intend to bring my own supply of tea this time. If it should happen, however, that he puts Camomile in front of me for the four mornings we stay with him, I can tell already that I will drink each one of them. There can be no other way, and when I get there I shall remember all over again why that is so.


Anonymous said...

What a nice post. Really enjoyed reading. How unselfish.

Here's what I would do though. Tell him you have discovered another type of tea, whatever it is, and that's why you are bringing it. Offer some to him. Might divert him from the other.


Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Hello and thanks for the wonderful comments. I'm always pleased to see a new reader :)
My Spouse has recommended that I bring my own tea and offer it as as something new. It's all I can do.
I wouldn't mind so much but I hate tea with any herbs or flavourings.
Thanks for the suggestion and let's hope it works.
Again, thanks for coming by and for your kind words.

Pappy said...

How about a little flask of rum? That might kill the taste of Camomile and smooth out the conversation. Just kidding. Nice sentiment. I enjoy tea everyday, but mostly the iced variety. In the evening I do like a nice hot cup. However, like you I am not impressed by most of the herbal variety.

Tarie Sabido said...

Ooohhh, that's a nice poem! I love Emily Dickinson. :o)

I'm dying to know what you'll think of The Invention of Hugo Cabret. ;o) I hope it won't disappoint. :o(

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

That's a good one.
I'll have to do it when he's not watching-
"Look! Is that a bird?"
Then, quick as a, if only I liked rum!

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

I'll let you know what I think of the book. Orphans, clocks, Paris, train stations, mysterious keys, and books. Was it written just for me, do you think? :)

Ruth said...

Ha! I LOVE good black tea, but Camomile doesn't fit the bill for me either. It smells like grass clippings. My mother always leaves some here when she visits. I don't know if I could have acted as nobly as you did.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Thanks for visiting, and for your comment. Grass clippings- absolutely. I couldn't have put it better myself :)

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